Okay, this is probably the slowest progress ever! Over three weeks of work and I am only now starting on the background. The figure is, also, unfinished. Only the beginning layers have been applied to the legs and the other features will need to be touched up. In an attempt to speed up progress, I have moved onto the background. Sometimes, when progress appears to be static, it is good to move onto another section and return, refreshed, to the original sections of work, later. With this portrait, I have been working for only an hour or two each day, and I find that this stop-start approach is not the most effective approach for me - long hours of concentration suit me better.
The background requires a different technique to the person. My style allows for flexibilty in the depiction of detail and a more individual interpretation, though a certain accuracy is still essential to achieve a realistic result. I have enjoyed working on the grassy verge, this afternoon. The loose, flowing strokes and the bold, sunlit colours are a joy to work with. Though the style is still realistic, there are elements of impressionism in this technique and each new layer adds a different effect. This means that the final look may not be apparent until the very last layers are applied.
Another aspect of background work, which I enjoy, is that the process speeds up significantly, at this stage. I enjoy the meditative quality of time spent slowly and methodically, building up a likeness and reproducing the character of my subjects, but, by the time I get to the background, it is a refreshing change to see the whole picture take shape quite rapidly before my eyes. I am loving where I'm at with this portrait, right now!